If you are a Republican, the first week of impeachment meant the Democrats were unserious clowns, out to launch a coup against the duly elected President of the United States. The president's team was diligent, thoughtful and proficient.
If you are a Democrat, the first week of impeachment meant the president's team was a cast straight from the island of misfit toys, unable to make a coherent argument -- and the Democrats were veritable geniuses. Impeachment, and your view on impeachment, is all in the eye of the beholder. Republicans think it is a scam, and Democrats think it is necessary.
In 1998, the roles were reversed, including in the press. Major media figures during the Clinton impeachment thought it would be a waste of time to hear from witnesses. Now, many of the same figures think it is vitally necessary. In 1998, Republicans thought the future of the republic depended on it, and Democrats thought it was a partisan coup. Guess where they stand now?
The most significant difference is that in 1998, Republicans got more Democrats on board than Democrats have gotten now against Trump. That is very notable, if for only one reason. There are 22 House Republicans leaving Congress. Half of them, at least, hate the President of the United States. They blame him for their districts turning against them. They blame him for their loss of power. They blame him for their departures. But the Democrats got precisely zero of them to vote their way, while the GOP picked up a seat in Congress with a Democrat turning Republican.
If House Democrats cannot get the Republicans who hate President Donald Trump and no longer have to fear his voters to go for impeachment, getting two-thirds of the Senate to go along for their ride is going to be an impossible task. To be clear, the President should not have done what he did. It was wrong, and any Republican who says otherwise lacks the intellectual honesty to acknowledge they would be demanding Barack Obama's head if he had done the same.
But is it impeachable? I think, with the nation less than a year from an election, it is not. If the president were in a second term and incapable of being held accountable by the voters, or early in a first term, the conclusion could be different. But the conclusion here is that the President did something wrong, and his staff knew it -- but it is in the open and he will face voters in less than 11 months. Likewise, Democrats failed to call key witnesses they could have called to build a better case, such as former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Instead, they tried to hide behind the courts and endless delays, but they never even wanted to pick the fight. The reality is that the courts would have accommodated the Democrats and rapidly expedited the fight. The Democrats chose never to go that far and now want the Senate to do the House's job.
Impeachment is a partisan fundraising tool for both sides at this point. Democrats have managed to help the President unite the Republican base while uniting their own base. There can be only one winner, and it will be Trump. Democrats will take their loss and turn it into a public relations and fundraising victory with their base. Relying on an overly biased and sympathetic media, the Democrats will cast doubt on the 2020 election, savage the GOP and make a case for taking back the Senate.
In less than a month, the nation will move on and have other things to focus on. Time will advance, the President will be on the ballot in November and voters will care about something else. This is historic. This is the third presidential impeachment in American history and only the second in living memory. Its ending is a foregone conclusion. It distracts from more important things. It will do nothing but make Americans more cynical as the ties that bind us fray just a bit more.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.